Parametric laser cutter design software - request for recommendations and advice

Hi All

I’m looking for recommendations for software to build parametric laser cutter designs - scenario is that some of the laser cut open science hardware we are working with has been designed for acrylic thicknesses that I don’t have and are not critical to the function, which I think is pretty common for labware (stands, tubes racks etc) and cases/boxes.

I’m going to have to redesign the file anyway so figured it would be great if the joints adjusted to fit the thickness provided. It’s also very common that extruded acrylic has some deviation from the advertised thickness, so this helps to account for that as well, particularly if your design has low tolerance e.g. lots of tight fitting joints. I have searched online and found it is possible to do parametric designs in FreeCAD and OpenSCAD (just about) but wondered if others have better suggestions. I’ve used both of those applications for simple 3D CAD in the past but I’m a novice.

If anyone would be willing to do a short tutorial/screen share that we could record and make available to the rest of the GOSH community, even better.

Thanks very much for any advice!

Jenny

I used Inkscape for lasercutting but that does not take parameters and I used Fusion360 which is free for Academia and accepts parameters. They work OKish unless the design is complicated.
Usually, but not always, for boxes (where thickness counts) I used free online generators that create files that are OKish when importing. Usually the lines are not perfect and have unnecessary inflexion points but they are off only fractions of millimeters which don’t show when cutting.

I contribute to a FOSS parametric CAD API called CadQuery that might be worth a look.

https://cadquery.readthedocs.io/en/latest/

It’s built with the Python language, and you can export to SVG or DXF. There is also a GUI IDE called CQ-editor that provides a user experience that’s a little closer to what OpenSCAD does out of the box.

An example of a simple sketch.

https://cadquery.readthedocs.io/en/latest/examples.html#defining-an-edge-with-a-spline

Are the earlier files that you’re updating stored somewhere that’s publicly accessible? It would be interesting to see the complexity of the profiles.

Maybe this isn’t what you’re looking for but SVG + javascript + the DOM would be my tool of choice here.

Thanks all - CadQuery might be an option, I’ll look into that and the projection() function in OpenSCAD in the first instance. I feel like I need a GUI!

I’m a big fan of the online box generators, in this case it is not a box but no complex geometries, it’s stand for pipettes. The files aren’t public and were designed by someone else but as and when the parametric versions are made I’ll share them back here and I remain open to further tips.

Jenny

If you want to make relatively simple 2D parametric drawings, I’d suggest using FreeCAD.

I’m guessing that this feature might fit your use case: SVG from Sketcher sketch? - FreeCAD Forum

The sketcher is relatively easy to use, and a nice way to start using FreeCAD. I’d also rely on the spreadsheets feature to define and document parameters.

Hope it helps!

If you can provide an example design or more detailed workflow, I’d be glad to either record a short video, or collect the relevant ones from the internet.

Hei @jcm80 et al,

we designed a few parametric lab-wares in openScad over the last years. especially for laser-cutting its practical, to choose, thickness and screw sizes etc.
The openscad files can also be modded in thingyverses customizers, to look at ok, but sadly doesnt export .dxf

But if you have openscad it’s strait forward.
this was all quite long time ago… gotta search for the files.

Here is the tube rack by @badgeek :

the microscope stage by @gaudi and remixed by me:

openScad in combination with inkscape works fantastic.